Queens-Satellite Academy High School

Course Title: Plays

Teacher: Peter C. Cherr


Plays is a mid to upper level English course meant to have students read and

analyze plays as literature. Further, they will learn to apply these analytic

skills used for understanding characters to people in the world around them.

In order to accomplish this, students will read a number of plays, react to

what they read in a journal and do a final project on each play, most often an

analytic essay.

Target Population:

This is a mid-level English class. Students are hetrogeneously grouped.


Students read plays in class and for homework, and write in their journals.

For each time they read, they answer the following questions: What did you

read? What did you think about what you read? What did you learn from what

you read?

I start the course with a one class period overview of drama, how a play

differs from a novel, and how a play is similar to a movie and how a play can

be read thinking about it for performance or as literature. We then begin

reading the play, Fences. In journals, individually and in groups, we read

aloud and analyze the characters and the plot. I spend time one-on-one with

students to work on their writing and their understanding of plays. This

allows for an approach where students have some group, overall standards

and expectations as well as at the same time having individual expectations set

up for each student based on where he/she started skill and understanding-

wise and how fast he/she individually progresses.


The final project is an essential learning component. Final projects can be

designing costumes, designing sets, a review of the play, a new ending to the

play, a new scene for the play, an obituary of a character, a diary for a

character, or some other creative final project. However, usually the final

project is an analytic essay exploring some aspect of the play. In whatever

form, the project must show reflection about the play as a whole and must

show that the student understands the play as a whole.


In order for students to have a structure in place so they can work together

and help each other learn, we read two plays together. We start with Fences

and then do Death of a Salesman. It should be noted that sometimes the

second play is not Death of a Salesman and that sometimes if the skill level

warrants it we do not read a second play together. The final outcome is that a

student should be able to select plays on his/her own and read and analyze

those plays. It is hoped that if students are able to do this, they will have

learned to analyze plays and characters better so that that analysis explicitly

could become a skill that they could use in their day to day lives.


When we do a play, we read the first act together in class. Each night the

homework is to write a journal entry on what we read. The next day we read

the entries aloud and dissect them so students can learn what a "good" entry

is. I teach them how to analyze a character and have them in journal entries

specifically analyze characters, figuring out why the characters were the way

they were, why they did what they did, and what they wanted that caused

them to be the way they were. We talk about how if one can do this in plays,

one can do the same process/skill in life in various relationships and can

become more successful in those relationships.


When students read their own plays, many work together, many work alone.

They do a lot of work discussing and helping each other. And, they meet with

me one-on-one for individualized instruction.


Alignment to standards:

This course is aligned to the following NY state and city English Language Arts standards:

Reading - the full length texts that students read in this course helps address standards

E1a and E1b.

Writing - the responses to literature that students write throughout the course correspond

to standard E2b. Additionally, the persuasive essays that students write correspond to

standard E2e.

Literature - as students read, write and make thematic connections between two works

of literature, they are working on meeting the requirements of standard E5e